site.btaUPDATED Deputy Foreign Minister: It Is Becoming Increasingly Difficult to See Desire for Trust in Skopje's Conduct
Interviewed on bTV on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Kostadin Kodzhabashev said Skopje's grounds for stopping Bulgarian citizens from paying homage at the monument to Gotse Delchev on February 4 were very unconvincing and at odds with earlier promises.
He added that the attitude to Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people of the authorities in the Republic of North Macedonia is humiliating and unacceptable.
The marking of the 151st birth anniversary of Gotse Delchev in Skopje drew sharp reactions.
The Foreign Ministry issued an official position on February 4, which remains unchanged. Such actions reflect a failure to fulfill a prior commitment to provide unimpeded access to all good faith citizens who want to pay homage to the great revolutionary Gotse Delchev," Kodzhabashev said.
In his view, the actions of the authorities in the Republic of North Macedonia have badly damaged the process of rebuilding trust, although Bulgarian Prime Minister Galab Donev initiated a process of de-escalation in a rather difficult situation. Kodzhabashev said Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev's visits to Skopje on January 30 and February 4 were another step in that direction.
"It is definitely becoming increasingly difficult for us to see a desire for building the necessary trust, friendship and cooperation in the conduct of the government in Skopje," Kodzhabashev said.
The Republic of North Macedonia has not started EU accession talks, so a veto is irrelevant, he said. "This process can start only if one imperative condition set by Bulgaria is met - the Republic of North Macedonia must include in its Constitution the Bulgarians, the Macedonian Bulgarians with Bulgarian self-awareness. Only then can we talk about the start of [Skopje's] negotiations with the EU, and after that we can possibly talk about a veto if needed," the Deputy Foreign Minister said.
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Nikolay Milkov conferred with North Macedonia's Ambassador in Sofia, Agneza Rusi-Popovska, with a request for firm intervention by the Ambassador and by Skopje and for restoration of the freedom of movement after problems started at the border, Kodzhabashev recalled.
Regarding the return of the Bulgarian Ambassador in Skopje, the Deputy Foreign Minister said Sofia is doing its best to keep the diplomatic channels open and keep up communication. "We are guided by a sense that a categorical de-escalation of tension is needed, we have no interest in a further escalation and complication of bilateral political dialogue."
Kodzhabashev also said: "Bulgaria will always react when the rights and safety of Bulgarian citizens and citizens with Bulgarian self-awareness are affected. This is our categorical demand and the Macedonian side is very well aware of it," he said.